Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was founded on the campus of Howard University on January 16, 1920, fewer than 18 months after the end of World War I, by five coeds seeking to expand their concepts of and dedication to scholarship, service, sisterhood and finer womanhood.
Fast forward 23 years to September 1943. The United States had just two years earlier joined with the Allied Forces to bring an end to World War II. Fourteen women, some of whom were formerly affiliated with Iota Chapter in Covington, Kentucky decided to form a new chapter across the river in Ohio. Lullelia W. Harrison, the national sorority president, visited the city to charter Beta Zeta Zeta Chapter. The charter members were Theresa Brezeal, Ruth Crittenden – the chapter’s first president, Essie Frakes, Roby Hopson, Anna Frazier Johnson, Wilma Lacy, Hazel Lane, Martha Lovell, Hazel Lucas, Cordelia Mills, Alvaious Simon, Goldia Scott, Ann Turnell and Gladys Warrington, one of the Sorority’s first initiates, who later moved to Cincinnati and worked as a psychologist and teacher for 22 years.
The second oldest chapter in the Great Lakes Region, Beta Zeta Zeta has a notable history of educational, social and community service projects. The Chapter’s first major activity was a fashion extravaganza (circa 1947) featuring Marva Louis, wife of boxing champion Joe Louis. Proceeds from that event were used to establish a scholarship fund that supports the Doris L. McAdams and Wilma E. Lacy Memorial Scholarships. Click here for a full listing of recipients. Later came monthly meal preparation and serving at St Johns Social Services, community ‘baby showers’ hosted jointly with our undergraduate chapter, the ‘feathering’ of two Stork’s Nest sites, and in 2004-6, a ‘modified’ Stork’s Nest for the students enrolled at Scarlet Oaks Career Center.
Annually, the Chapter observes or hosts Founders’ Day, Finer Womanhood, and Prematurity Awareness programs. Beta Zeta Zeta Chapter is a lifetime NAACP member, and has had or maintains local partnerships with the March of Dimes, the Urban League, the YWCA, Scarlet Oaks Career Development Campus, WCET, Cincinnati Miss Black Teen Pageant, Midwest Regional Black Family Reunion, St. John’s Social Services, SUMA, HUB Social Services and Closing the Health Gap.
With few exceptions, since 1950, Beta Zeta Zeta Chapter has bestowed upon one or more Greater Cincinnati women the title, “Woman of the Year” or for local chapter members, “Zeta of the Year.” Each honoree must, through her community service or career activity, exemplify the ideals of scholarship, service, sisterhood or finer womanhood.